Raro Video USA, the recently formed American arm of Italy’s most prestigious video publishing house, continues to demonstrate how little we know on this side of the pond about the classical Italian cinema, most recently with a pair of releases directed by Alberto Lattuada, “The Overcoat” (1952) and “Come Have Coffee with Us” (1970), both of which I review in this week’s New York Times column. Lattuada seems to have followed a path taken by several other directors of the postwar generation, moving from neo-realist principles (“The Bandit,” 1946), to stylish genre films (his 1951 “Anna” is a visually stunning blend of melodrama and noir stylistics) and into a series of dignified literary adaptations (“La Steppa,” 1962), before reinventing himself one last time as perhaps the driest wit of the “commedia all’italiana” of the 60s and 70s (“Mafioso,” 1962). His is another name to add to the list of filmmakers awaiting further investigation (which is to say, more extensive subtitling) that would already include Luigi Zampa, Antonio Pietrangeli, Valerio Zurlini, Luiciano Emmer, and no doubt another dozen or two with whom I am entirely unfamiliar. I’d welcome any other suggestions and amplifications.
Also on the further research front, the January/February issue of Film Comment is out, in which I devote a column to one of my favorite overlooked filmmakers, the immensely sensitive shaper of comic performances William A. Seiter.